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family fun

First Day of School Prayers for Children and Parents + 5 Day Prayer Challenge

Tomorrow my children start their first day of school in a brand new environment.  Although I’m excited for them to start this new journey in a new school, I am also filled with a bit of anxiety and I just feel like praying—and I thought you might pray with me—for our children as they start a new year of school.

I believe the best gift we give our kids as they head back to school is our prayers.  Whether it’s the first day of kindergarten, middle school, high school, or college, children need our prayers.  If you believe this too, I hope you’ll join me in a 5-day prayer challenge you can do on your own.

In order to participate, all you need to do is recite the prayers below each morning for the first five days of school.  If you don’t like any of the prayers I’ve chosen, feel free to come up with your own prayers.  And of course, if you’re not the religious type then this challenge isn’t for you and that’s okay.  If your children already started their first day of school, no worries you can still participate.  Just recite the prayers each morning for five consecutive days with your children or on your own.

I hope you find this prayer challenge to be helpful and will help spread the word if it’s something that resonates with you.

Day One

Dear God, Father of heavenly lights, Giver of perfect gifts,

I give my child(ren) to you today and everyday.  Keep him/her and his/her schoolmates safe and protected, Father God.  I ask that this school year you would use every person, every experience and every lesson to shape him/her into Your image, to grow in his/her fruit of Your spirit.  God, grow in his/her heart.   Teach him/her to sacrifice like You did, giving up what he/she values for the good of others. Bless the teachers and administrators, God.  Keep them safe.  These men and women who have committed to invest in the next generation. Give them discernment and wisdom to see each student’s unique abilities and gifts. Multiply their preparation and may their plans be fruitful. Fill the day with moments of wonder. Remind them of their special place in the lives of their students and give them confidence in their abilities.  And for all the parents/grandparents, Lord, I pray for peace. Give us plenty to do so we don’t have time to fret. Let us be extraordinarily grateful for the privilege of parenting. Fill us with wisdom as we watch our babies grow. Grant us patience and kindness as they stretch their wings. Hold us close to You as we learn to let them go.  In Jesus name I/we pray, Amen.

Day Two

Dear Father God,

Today, I ask You for godly, loyal friends for my child(ren). Friends who love purity, who are pure in heart, and gracious in speech, friends that will sharpen them and love them at all times.  Please give my child(ren) a heart of compassion. Help him/her/them to see situations from every perspective and to treat others like they would want to be treated. Give him/her/them a friendly and kind spirit. May he/she/they welcome friends with a smile.  God I pray my child(ren) would be wise when choosing friends. Give him/her/them discernment to find true friends and help them to build each other up. Give them the ability to say no when necessary and bravery to stand up for what is right. In Jesus name I/we pray, Amen.

Day Three

Dear Father God,

Today I pray for Your care and protection throughout the school year. 
Cover the schools in our area and across the nation with Your covering and protection.  I/we pray for vigilance among administrators and teachers as well as security personnel. Lord I/we pray that would-be perpetrators will be turned from their intentions and receive the corrective influences that are needed in their lives.  Lord, I/we pray that the school year will be successfully completed without incident. It is so.  In Jesus name I/we pray, Amen.

Day Four

Dear God,

Today I come to you in prayer Lord, asking you to help my child(ren) experience peace this year. I pray he/she/they will not worry about things they cannot control, but that You will guard his/her/their hearts and minds and keep him/her/them trusting in You. I pray he/she/they will not only enjoy the peace of God, but peace with God. I pray he/she/they will develop a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving as they look to You daily for their needs.  Grant him/her/them Your peace in their hearts and minds in great measure.  In Jesus name I/we pray, Amen.

Day Five

Dear Heavenly Father,

Let this school year be their best year ever with excellent grades, favor with teachers and classmates and good behavior all covered by Your protection. Enable our children to continue growing in wisdom and stature all the days of their lives.  Let Your peace and understanding envelope them at all times.  Let your joy be their strength. Help them to trust You as their refuge and fortress.  Guard their minds from bad counsel and peer pressure. Bless them with Your Spirit of discernment to know and do what is right at all times.  Strengthen their heart and spirit to resist the devil, so that he/she will flee from them.  Teach them to cast all their anxiety upon You, trusting and genuinely knowing that You care for them.  Let Your light shine in their lives and cause all forms of darkness around them to flee. Make them strong and courageous in the presence of danger. Let them be assured You will never leave nor forsake them as they remain strong in You and Your mighty power.  In Jesus name I/we pray, Amen.

Below I’ve also included a few short prayers for parents or kids to recite daily.  Source: Living Prayers.

First Day of School Prayer
(a parent’s prayer poem for their child starting school)

Dear Lord,

Fill her (his) heart with peace,
Hold her (his) hand today,
Help him/her feel secure and loved,
Be with him/her we pray.
May him/her smile and make new friends
Paint and learn and play,
Bless the teaching staff who care
For little ones today.
Lift my heart to trust that he’ll/she’ll
Be overseen by you,
Father God cover us
On his/her first day at school.

Amen.

Prayer for a child starting a new school year
(a simple prayer for a child of any age to say)

Father God,

Thank you for being beside me,
Thank you for this new school year.
Please be there to hold my hand,
Please help me to relax and enjoy the day.
Bring new friendships into my life,
Bring new possibilities to learn and grow.
Help me to pray in my heart to you if I am anxious,
Help me to remember that you are always with me.

Amen.

School Morning Prayer
(a simple prayer for primary school aged children to say)

Father God,

Be with us today
Fill our hearts with joy
Fill our minds with learning
Fill our classrooms with peace
Fill our lessons with fun
Fill our friendships with kindness
Fill our school with love

Amen.

If you’re looking for a few religious picture book recommendations for children, you might enjoy this post.

Your turn: What will you pray for your children (grandchildren) as they go back to school? Feel free to share in the comments.

Connecticut

Literary Road Trip Series: Lake Compounce in Bristol, CT

Disclaimer: Thank you to Lake Compounce for providing me and my family with complimentary access to the park. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Did you know Lake Compounce is the oldest, continuously-operating amusement park in North America?  It had its genesis more than 170 years ago in 1846..wow!  Lake Compounce is home to Boulder Dash, which has been voted the world’s #1 wooden roller coaster, as well as Connecticut’s largest water park.  It has over 400 acres of fun and is essentially like having two parks in one.  You get rides, games, food and roller coasters along with an amazing water park that is SO MUCH FUN – especially on a hot day.

One of my favorite things about the park is how clean it is.  Plus, the lines are usually pretty quick and the staff is has always been very pleasant and helpful each time we’ve visited.  Our most recent family visit was a few weeks ago and as usual, Lake Compounce didn’t disappoint.  It’s definitely our family’s favorite go-to amusement park in the state of Connecticut.

We like to get to the park as soon as it opens to try and avoid the mad rush.  As soon as you arrive all guests must go through a security checkpoint and bag check for safety reasons.  The lines typically move along pretty quickly although depending on the size of the crowd and time of day, the wait could be about 10 minutes or slightly longer.  Keep this in mind if you’re visiting with smaller children as they may get a little antsy.


Once you get past security and the ticket lines, it’s time for the fun to begin!  We like to reserve island loungers on the Lake Compounce website prior to our visit.  You get 2 lounge chairs, a shaded straw umbrella, entrance to the exclusive island lounge chair area, and accommodations for up to 4 people. The island loungers are conveniently located right next to Bayou Bay which is one of our favorite attractions at the park.  The lounge chairs sit on a sandy area across from the lake making it feel like you’re spending the day at the beach.  Oh and the best part?  You can leave your belongings in the private island lounge chair area.  It’s always monitored by a Lake Compounce employee giving us peace of mind our stuff will be safe.  If you have a larger group of people you can rent a cabana.  The park currently has 5 Luxury Cabanas located lakeside by Riptide Racers, 6 Private Cabanas located by the entrance of Mammoth Falls, 2 located on the lake, and 5 located next to Bayou Bay.

Our family likes to explore the water park attractions first, eat lunch and then head to the amusement park rides afterwards before heading back to the island loungers to pick up our belongings.  So far this year we had a chance to experience: The Dino Expedition, Croc-o-Nile, Boulder Dash, Zoomerang, Riptide Racer, The Wave Swinger and Down Time.  We also tried our hand at some the games which is always a blast.

Lake Compounce has always catered to families with young children like ours, while offering high value thrills for the older kids and adults too.  Our kids love the variety of rides and games in the kiddie park including the Dino Expedition.  There are also plenty of seating/resting options for watchful parents and grown-ups who like to watch children ride and take photos.  The park is interesting enough and accessible enough for our family so naturally always purchase season passes for the amusement park and parking lot.  They pay for themselves on the second visit.  Season pass holders also get other perks throughout the year too like buddy passes and food/retail discounts.

From the outside, Lake Compounce appears hidden and small, but trust me, you can spend all day inside and not get to everything.  Since they are constantly adding new attractions and features to the park, we still haven’t done everything there yet.

Prior to our visit we read a few amusement park themed books like: Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee.

A few other things to keep in mind:

  • Bring all of our summertime essentials if you plan to spend the day there: suntan lotion, bathing suits, extra clothes to change into, towels and strollers if traveling with smaller kids
  • Be prepared to walk – You’ll do a lot of walking from the moment you arrive at the park.  If you have a fitness tracker it’s a great way to rack up your step count for the day!
  • Admission for kids ages 3 and under is FREE
  • They have phone charging stations, family restrooms AND a nursing station for nursing mothers (Woohoo!)
  • Locker rentals are also available for securing your belongings
  • Shirt and shoes are required everywhere except Crocodile Cove water park.  Bathing suits are required for the water park area.
  • Outside food or drink is not allowed in the park (with exception of baby items, food allergies or other special dietary needs)

I cannot recommend this place more!  Visit at least once to experience all the park has to offer for a fun family day adventure.

Ready to head to the park?  Be sure to take advantage of my ticket discount by clicking here!

Connecticut

Literary Road Trip Series: Winterberry Landscape & Garden Center in Southington, CT

Spring has sprung here in the Northeast and is our area is now bursting with lush gardens and flowers in bloom. Mother Nature has certainly given us lots of rain this season so far. The rain has been great for all the plants, trees and flowers despite it dampening my mood and thwarting my plans at times.

Two weekends ago, the kids and I had the pleasure of attending an event at Winterberry Gardens located in Southington, CT. Their 16-acre garden and landscape center is gorgeous! They have everything from native plants to unique plants all planted by certified growers.

 

I will admit years ago I didn’t have a green thumb to save my life.  Every plant I had died. Now, I’ve learned how to take care of plants after much research, reading and watching videos online.  Now that I have Winterberry Gardens as an additional local resource that’s an added bonus!

To help provide you with ideas for your home or garden Winterberry Gardens offers tours of their landscapes gardens and they host educational seminars. They also have a wide selection of hanging plants, trees, soil, mulch, perennials and annuals.  Oh, and did I mention they do landscaping too?  Yes, their expert landscape designers can create a plan for you that’s both stunning and easy to maintain no matter the size of your yard or budget.

I’m so excited with the new plants I purchased from Winterberry Gardens and will be going back soon to buy more and attend their upcoming educational seminars.

If you’re local in the area be sure to check out this amazing garden and landscape center.  It’s a one-stop-shop for all of your lawn and garden maintenance needs.  It would make an excellent educational field trip with kids and the local library (Southington Public Library) is just 10 minutes away.

Winterberry Landscape & Garden Center
2070 West Street
Southington, CT 06489
Phone: (860) 378-0071
Email: info@winterberrygarden.com
Web: http://www.winterberrygarden.com

family fun

The Eggscellent Social Media Scavenger Hunt

Come one, come all – because the Eggscellent Social Media Scavenger Hunt is about to begin!

With Easter around the corner, I created a scavenger hunt and I hope many of you will participate and join in the fun!  The adventure begins on Monday, April 1, 2019 and ends on Monday, April 15th. You’ll have two weeks to try and answer as many of the questions listed below correctly.

If you start and stick it through, by the end of the hunt – even if you don’t win a prize – you will have gotten to know me, my blog, and my family a little better.  You might even learn some things along the way or find some new book recommendations, which is always a plus!

Does that sound okay?

Good, let’s get going!

What’s at Stake?

  • A $50 Amazon gift card!  This scavenger hunt is open to ANYONE in the world.  The gift card code will be emailed to the winner.

Talk Rules to Me
Okay – are you ready for the rules?

1. The FIRST person to get the HIGHEST number of points by answering the questions correctly will be deemed the winner.  It could be YOU!

2. You MUST email all of your responses to hereweeread@gmail.com in order to enter.  You must put “Eggscellent Scavenger Hunt” in the Subject line of the email so I’ll see it.  Untitled or improperly titled email messages will NOT be accepted.  All email entries must be received by April 15, 2019 by 11:59pm EST to qualify.

3. Bonus Opportunities.  Yes, there are bonus opportunities too!  For 5 bonus entries: Comment on my last two (2) blog posts OR my last 2 Instagram posts.  For 7 bonus entries: subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

The Spirit of the Games
I’d like to remind everyone that Eggscellent Social Media Scavenger Hunt is for fun, for learning, and for getting to know me a little better.  If you have any questions about this scavenger hunt – pop them in the comments below the post.

And without further ado…

Here you go: The Eggscellent Social Media Scavenger Hunt list of questions.

On your mark.

Get set.

Go!
***************

1. At what age did my daughter start reading? If you’ve been following my blog for a while you may already know this. If not, search my blog post archives to find the answer.  (Worth 3 Points) 

2. What date did I start my Instagram account? In case you don’t follow me on Instagram, my username is @hereweeread. (Worth 5 points)  Note: you’re gonna have to scroll WAY back in my feed to find the answer!

3. What is the name of the community service project my kids and I are currently working on? Easy if you’ve been following me for a while.  (Worth 2 points)

4. Name two sources I mention on the blog for scoring free or discounted books to help build up your home or school library. (Worth 4 points)

5. Which author did I meet at last year’s Book Expo in NYC that had me fangirling HARD? (Worth 2 points)

6. How many Bookface photos did I feature on my Instagram page from January 2019 to March 2019? (Worth 2 points) Note: Don’t know what a Bookface is? You can read about it here.

7. List the titles of two (2) books I posted on my Instagram page during the month of March 2019. The titles can be any two books you choose. Worth (4 points)

8. What is one useful tip I provide in my blog post entitled “HELP…MY KIDS WON’T SIT STILL DURING STORY TIME“? (Worth 3 points)

9. At the time you’re working on this scavenger hunt, how many followers do I have on Twitter? Also, if you’re not already following me on Twitter, won’t you consider giving me a follow? My username is @hereweeread. (Worth 1 point)

10. At the time you’re working on this scavenger hunt, how many followers do I have on Facebook? Also, if you’re not already following me on Facebook, won’t you consider giving me a follow? My username is @hereweeread. (Worth 1 point)

11. Name one person I’ve interviewed on my blog. Hint: Interview can be an author interview or another person I’ve interviewed/featured on the blog. (Worth 2 points)

12. Name 2 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) brands we’ve worked with in the past or featured on the blog. (Worth 4 points)

13. How old are my children? (Worth 2 points) 

14. At the time you’re working on this scavenger hunt, how many followers do I have on Pinterest? Also, if you’re not already following me on Pinterest, won’t you consider giving me a follow? My username is @hereweeread. (Worth 1 point)

15. Name 2 books you’re excited to read from my 2019 Ultimate List of Diverse Children’s Books. (Worth 3 points)

16. Name 1 inventor listed in my blog post entitled “9+ Black Inventor’s You May Have Missed in History Class.” (Worth 1 point)

17. Tell me the name of one place my family and I visited on our popular Literary Road Trip Adventures. (Worth 2 points)

18. Tell me the name of three categories I have listed in my Amazon Bookstore. (Worth 5 points)  Note: You can find the direct link to my Amazon Bookstore here.

19. What do I have a Master’s Degree in? (Worth 3 points)

20. Name 2 podcasts I’ve been featured on in the past.  Hint: I’ve been featured on 6 podcasts to date. (Worth 5 points)  Note: If you can only name 1 podcast you will get 2 points, not 5 points.

21. Tell me the name of at least one (1) publisher I mention in the post entitled, “Diversity in Publishing A to Z”. (Worth 2 points)

22. Name another publication I write for besides my own blog. (Worth 3 points)

23. What musical instrument do both of my children play?  (Worth 5 points)

24. In what state do my family and I currently reside?  (Worth 2 points)

25. Which fictional tv character’s wardrobe do I fantasize about having?  (Worth 4 points)

To enter and be in the running for the gift card grand prize, email your answers to me at: hereweeread@gmail.com.  You must put “Eggscellent Scavenger Hunt” in the Subject line of the email so I’ll see it.  Untitled or improperly titled email messages will NOT be accepted.  All email entries must be received by April 15, 2019 by 11:59pm EST to qualify.

Enjoy the hunt! -Charnaie

family fun

A Lesson in Black History on the Basketball Court: Our Harlem Globetrotters Family Day Experience

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by The Harlem Globetrotters and US Family Guide who provided us with tickets to the show.  We appreciate their support that allows us to share information about events we think your family may enjoy.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

This Black History Month we had the pleasure of attending a Harlem Globetrotters basketball game. We had an awesome family day at The XL Center in Hartford, CT watching The Harlem Globetrotters take on the exhibition team, The Washington Generals.

The Harlem Globetrotters have been a staple of family entertainment throughout the country since 1926. Their creativity and genuine showmanship have excited generations of fans and created a lasting impact on American sports culture.  If you’re looking to spend some quality time together as a family and be entertained, attending a Harlem Globetrotters game (at least once in your lifetime) is a must!

This was our family’s first time going to one of their games and we thoroughly enjoyed it.  The tricks, the comedy, the dancing, the music – they really put on an amazing show.  My favorite part of the game was the slow motion re-enactment that involved the entire audience and players.  It really looked like everything was happening in slow motion – so cool!  The kids favorite part was watching “Hot Shot” standing on top of the basketball hoop and watching “Hammer” perform the song “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen.  So many memorable moments!

In addition to enjoying the game, we also used our family outing as a Black history lesson.  We talked to the kids about the history of the team from the 1920’s to present day.  Since the Globetrotters are an all Black team, we also mentioned some of the racism the team faced over the years due to segregation laws.

Overall, a great time was had by all of us.  The Globetrotters proved they are not only wonderful basketball players, but excellent entertainers too!  Their comedy is fun an family-friendly and they are crazy talented too!

For the latest news and information about the Harlem Globetrotters, visit the Globetrotters’ official Web site: www.harlemglobetrotters.com and follow them on Twitter @Globies.

Your turn: Has your family ever been to a Harlem Globetrotters basketball game?  Feel free to share in the comments.

Connecticut

Celebrate The Harlem Globetrotters During Black History Month + Save on Tickets!

Formed in 1926 by Abe Saperstein, The Harlem Globetrotters are legendary worldwide and famous for their one-of-a-kind family entertainment.  Throughout their history, the Original Harlem Globetrotters have showcased their iconic talents in 122 countries and territories on six continents, often breaking down cultural and societal barriers.

This weekend we’re taking our kids to have their first-ever basketball experience with the Harlem Globetrotters.  I couldn’t be more excited to go since it will be our family’s first Harlem Globetrotters basketball game.  I’ve always wanted to go witness their one-of-a-kind basketball artistry live in person and now we have the opportunity to go.

I’m ready to see all of the dribbling, the dunking, and the comedy that will be on full display.  It is sure to be a family-fun experience for us all and I love that we’re going to a game during Black History Month.  What better time to go and support and all Black basketball team!  Not only will it be exciting, but also a learning experience to teach the kids about the tremendous impact the Harlem Globetrotters have had on the world both on and off the court.

Does your family also want to pay homage by seeing this one-of-a-kind family entertainment experience live?

Visit the Harlem Globetrotters Tickets & Schedule Page to see when they’ll be in a city near you!

Our readers can SAVE 25% for ALL Harlem Globetrotters Games with promo code FUNFAM.

family fun

Budget-Friendly Valentine’s Day Gift Guide: Something for Every Member of Your Family

Roses are red, violets are blue, here are some gift ideas that we’ve picked out for you!  With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to start spreading the love.  Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to let those around you know you care, and give a gift that gets remembered.  I personally like giving intentional, practical and thoughtful gifts that people will actually use and appreciate.

Whether shopping for your partner, your child, or your favorite four legged friend, we’ve got you covered!

For the Adult Book Lovers

Book Beau

We adore this book sleeve from Book Beau that helps protect your books!  Your books need some hugs and kisses, too.

Price Range: $15 – $30 depending on the size purchased.

Image courtesy of Book Beau

Go on a Library Date Night

Here’s a bookish idea for partners to try…a Library Date night.  How fun is this?  The best part, it’s completely FREE.  You can download the free printables here.  If you decide to try this on your own, tell me how it went, pretty please!  I’d try it, but this isn’t my husband’s thing.

Price Range: FREE


Image courtesy of The Dating Divas

For the Kid Book Lovers

Book-Wrapped Pencils

Spice up your child’s reading and writing with these book-wrapped pencils.

Price Range: $9.00 + shipping

Image courtesy of Bouncing Ball Creations

For the Couples or the Entire Family

Poo-Pourri

Roses are red, violets are blue, I love you much more when I can’t smell your poo.

Spritz the bowl before you go & no one else will ever know.  Poo-Pourri is a blend of natural essential oils that create a barrier to embarrassing bathroom odors.

Price Range: $4.95 – $44.95 depending on the size purchased.


Image courtesy of Poo-Popourri

For the Pet Owners

Conversation Heart Rope Toy

Because our four-legged family members like presents too!
Price Range: $6.99


Image courtesy of Petco

Cat Scratching Post

Price Range: $19.99


Image courtesy of Petco

For the Foodie Or Anyone Who Likes Breakfast in Bed Or Taking Baths

Portable Bathtub Bed Tray

Makes for a perfect gift for just about anyone!  This item is definitely on my wish list!

Price Range: $44.99



Images courtesy of Amazon

For the Travel Enthusiast

Scratch Off World Map

These maps are a fun way to keep track of your past travels while helping you stay inspired as you plan your future trips. You simply scratch off the parts of the world you’ve been.  Fun for the whole family to plan travel trips together.

Price Range: $19.99 – $39.99

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day Book

An awesome travel resource that every traveler needs in their arsenal.  This book shows you how to travel the world on a budget with an easy to follow format.  Read it to learn how to become a master traveler and navigate the world — no matter where in the world you want to go!

Image courtesy of Amazon

For Watch Lovers

Nordgreen Watches

After learning more about Nordgreen watches, I was thrilled to partner with them because I believe in their high-quality products and support their overall mission.

Nordgreen makes every effort to use recyclable and/or sustainable materials, including the felt inside their boxes, which is made from recycled plastic.  They believe in doing their part to help others and save the environment.  That’s why Nordgreen makes it possible for their customers to participate in their ‘Giving Back’ program.  With every purchase, customers choose one of their three NGO partnerships to donate a portion of their purchase.

There are currently three different styles of watches to choose from: Philosopher, Native and Infinity.  In addition to loving their sustainability efforts, I also like how versatile their watches are.  You can change out the straps on any of their watches!  They currently have genuine leather, vegan nylon, or metal mesh straps to choose from.

Price Range: $200 and up (Also includes supporting one of 3 great environmental causes: providing clean water to someone in The Central African Republic for two months, education for one child in India for a month, or the preservation of 200 sq. feet of rain forest in Latin America.)

Use my code ‘HEREWEE’ to receive 15% off your order.

Your turn: What gifts are you giving this Valentine’s Day?  Feel free to share in the comments.

family fun

3 Bookish Things I’m Grateful for This Year


Thanksgiving Day is upon us once again here in the United States – it’s my absolute favorite holiday of the year.  Not only do I love eating yummy food, but I also love spending time being surrounded by family and friends.  And what is it about Thanksgiving that makes food taste so good on that specific day?

This year I’ve been more intentional about showing gratitude and appreciation for the things and people I have in my life.  I thought since Thanksgiving is tomorrow it’s the perfect day for me to share a few bookish things I’m grateful for this year.

1. 50 States 50 Books
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have heard me talk about the awesome community service project I’m working on with my two children.  It’s called 50 States 50 Books.

Started in July 2018 by my children, the mission of the 50 States 50 Books project has one main mission: help close the literacy gap in America and expose more children to diverse literature.  Our goal is to collect 50 diverse children’s books for each of the 50 U.S. states and donate them to deserving schools, libraries, and other organizations throughout the country.  So far, we’ve collected over 650 diverse children’s books and donated them to 13 different states.

We’ll soon receive a gracious 800-book donation from a publishing company which will help us complete 16 additional states.  That will take our total to 29 completed states, with 21 remaining left.

So far the excitement and support for our project has been amazing!  We’ve been featured in our local newspaper, local television morning talk show, The Huffington Post and Moneyish.  The kids’ school even got in on the action and allowed us to have 3 donation boxes throughout the school for our book drive.

My kids also received a Kid Kindness grant for their project from Kindness Grows Here.  The money received from the grant will go towards our shipping and supplies expenses allowing us to ship books 50 at a time to 6-8 different states.

If you’d like to support us by sending us new or gently used diverse children’s books for kids ages 0 – 17 you can send them here:

50 States 50 Books
P.O. Box 992
Middletown, CT 06457

To make monetary donations (to help us cover shipping and shipping supplies) please visit our Go Fund Me page.  My children also have a wish list of books to choose from if you’d like to make a book donation.  You can find the wish list here.

2. The Bookstagram Community on Instagram
Would you believe nearly 4 years ago I had no idea what Instagram was or how to use it?  Yeah, I was a little late to joining the social media world, but now I LOVE it – especially Instagram.  Instagram is the one social media platform that I gravitated to the most and it’s where I’ve found a sense of community.

Prior to joining Instagram, I was clueless there was this whole bookstagram community of book lovers out there like myself.  I’m eternally grateful for the kind people I’ve met and collaborated with over the years.  By sharing, networking and collaborating with others, I’ve been able to grow my audience organically to over 35,000 people on Instagram alone.  I’ve also had the opportunity to work with brands and local businesses, libraries, connect with authors/illustrators and other bloggers.  Oh, and let’s not forget all of the wonderful books I’ve found out about from other book bloggers, parents and educators!  My TBR list is SO long because there are so many amazing books out there to read.

3. Completing My First Library Program
In September 2018, I began my first ever library program at one of my local libraries.  It turned out to be one of the best experiences I’ve had all year.  Each week we explored a different region around the world, read picture books and worked on craft projects.  The program was geared towards children up to age 6 and allowed us all to “travel around the world” through books.

Each week taught me new lessons about things like: giving, sharing, patience, kindness, empathy, and using your imagination.  The kids also reminded me of the importance of incorporating laughter and play in your day.

Overall, 2018 has been a good year for me and my family thus far.  With just a few more weeks left in the year, I’m excited to see the new bookish things I’ll be adding to my gratitude list in the weeks and months ahead.

Your turn: What are some bookish (or non-bookish) things you’re grateful for this year?  Feel free to share in the comments.

family fun

Literary Road Trip Series: Sun Valley, Idaho

Sun Valley is a gorgeous resort city located in Blaine County, Idaho, known for its fantastic ski activities and beautiful sights.

Thousands of tourists flock to the Sun Valley each year to ski Bald Mountain or to take their children to Dollar Mountain to master the art of skiing and snowboarding.

However, there’s more to the Sun Valley than snow sports. Here, you’ll find a hidden cultural scene which is wonderful to discover as well as several educational hot spots where you can kick your feet up, grab a book and learn something new.

If you’re planning on visiting Sun Valley this season, continue reading this article to find some exciting tips as well as the best things to see and do in the region.

Where to Stay in Sun Valley

While there are a wide variety of places to stay in Sun Valley, one thing you most certainly need to keep in mind is that depending on the season, accommodations can really fill up fast. In order to avoid disappointment, it’s recommended that you always be sure to book your Sun Valley Idaho Lodging or some of the many alternatives prior to your arrival.

Family Activities in the Sun Valley

Now it’s time to start planning the destinations you’ll explore and the activities you and your family will participate in during your stay in Sun Valley.

Although the Sun Valley is a relatively small destination, there are several experiences which families simply cannot miss during their trip to the region.

Learn how to Ski or Snowboard

Visiting Sun Valley and not experiencing the snow is like going to an ice cream shop and not spoiling yourself with an ice cream. There’s nothing inherently wrong with avoiding the winter months in Sun Valley, but if you do, you’re missing one of the highlights of the destination.

Take advantage of the fantastic instructors and community surrounding the Dollar Mountain to learn all you need to know about skiing, snowboarding, and a variety of other snow sports. This is an excellent opportunity to bond as a family and have a fantastic time playing in the snow.

If you’re already familiar with the snow sports, you might want to head over to the Bald Mountain, or Baldy as the locals call it is the best spot to ski in the region. With dozens of beginner to intermediate trails to ski as well as some expert routes for those who are experienced skiers.

Visit the Ketchum/Sun Valley Heritage and Ski Museum

Alternatively, if you and your family are not too enthusiastic on participating in the winter related activities and would like to stay warm and dry but still care to learn more about skiing, we recommend you make a quick stop at the Ketchum/Sun Valley Heritage and Ski Museum.

The Ketchum/Sun Valley Heritage and Ski Museum is a fantastic place that both preserves and tells the story of the region, it’s cultural and economic growth through the ages and the importance of skiing to the Sun Valley and its community.

Mountain Hiking

You can also experience the sights and beauty of the Sun Valley region mountains without having to wear skiing gear. You can take a leisure trek through the region and bond with your family as you walk through this fascinating destination. If you and your family are hikers, you will really love the hiking trails available in the area.

Have an Educational Tour at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden

Whether you’re traveling with young children or visiting with your significant other, touring the Sawtooth Botanical Garden is a fantastic way to learn about the natural diversity of the region, the importance of native and cultivated plants, and the beauty of gardening and its relationship with humanity.

Not only are the botanical gardens absolutely stunning, but you’ll learn a great deal about the ecology of the region and a number of other things you might not know about gardening and plants.

The Chapter One Bookstore

For those who love reading and can’t be far away from a local bookstore while traveling you should stop by the Chapter One Bookstore, a fantastic shop that feels just like home.

A perfect mix between an indie bookshop and large favorite bookstores, this place is perfect to dive in and seek out rare books, enjoy a cup of coffee, and chat with some locals about the community.

The Community Library

If libraries are included in your idea of a great family trip, you won’t want to miss the Community Library of Sun Valley.

With contemporary exhibits, dozens of different programs to educate the community and its visitors, and thousands of resources to learn from, The Community Library is an excellent place you should visit if you’re an avid reader who loves this essential part of life.

Discover Ernest Hemingway’s Legacy in the Sun Valley

Ernest Hemingway is one of the most memorable writers in American history. An author that influences millions of writers worldwide and still is held with high esteem in the places he lived and gathered.

Sun Valley is the final resting place of this magnificent writer, and there’s a great legacy that surrounds his works that you can find in the region.

You can find his home, which doubles as a museum thanks to the efforts of the Community Library, where hundreds of different artifacts and items of his life are on display. The exhibit is an excellent place to learn about the life and works of this influential writer.

Experience the Indie Art and Music of Sun Valley

With the influence of Ernest Hemingway and dozens of other artists who once called this region home, Sun Valley has become a fantastic scene of contemporary art, indie music, and theatrics.

From the Sun Valley Summer Symphony to the other art galleries set throughout the region, the Sun Valley has an impressive display of places to enjoy art and surround yourself with a loving community.

More than just Snow and Ski — Experience Everything Sun Valley has to Offer

While many tourists assume that Sun Valley is simply as a ski resort or a winter getaway for those looking to take part in some of the many snow sports on offer, it’s actually much more diverse than that.

From learning about the legacy of Ernest Hemingway to exploring and discovering surprising new artists who live and perform in the venues of the valley, there are dozens of activities and events for everyone in the family, regardless of the age difference.

Hopefully, you’ll find the locations and tips in this article helpful for your plans to make a literary road trip to Sun Valley, Idaho, and you can enjoy this magnificent location and all the experiences it has to offer.

Connecticut

Literary Road Trip Series: Wee Faerie Village + Old Lyme Public Library


The Wee Fairie Village is pure magic!  The kids and I recently visited for the first time a couple of weeks ago after learning about it from a friend.

What is the Wee Fairie Village?
The Wee Faerie Village, is a popular, annual tradition at the Florence Griswold Museum.  This year the theme was Lettersburg Junction, which featured enchanting regions where faeries live in alphabetically placed houses resembling all the letters of the alphabet, from A to Z. There were also the Numbertown and Punctuation Stations which were all amazing to see in person.

Upon entering the museum we were provided a handy DIRECTIONARY (map) to begin exploring Lettersburg Junction one fairie destination at a time.  Before we headed out to the village, we spent about a half hour inside the museum learning about Florence Griswold who transformed her home into an art colony in the early 1900s.  Her home is now a national historic landmark which is today known as the Florence Griswold Museum.  The museum exhibits both American art and historical material. Its collection spans fine art, sculpture, works on paper, artist’s studio material, toys and dolls, ceramics, furniture, textiles, decorative arts and historic artifacts, and the Lyme Historical Society archives.


With our map in hand, we began search the grounds for the elaborate faerie dwellings.  Each one was a beautiful miniature habitat made out of natural or found materials.  The map listed the faerie dwellings along the route using cute faerie-sounding place names such as “Beachy Bungalow”, “Umbrella Utopia”, and “Gnome Sweet Gnome Home”.  Each village had witty monikers that were often wordplays on some aspect of the historic artist or their art.  Also, at each fairie dwelling there were hidden items to find which added a fun scavenger hunt and reading theme to it.

Can you find the garden gnome?

Can you locate Lily’s little locket?

Can you find our magical quiver filled with rainbow arrows?

Checking out the Pagoda Palace fairie dwelling

The Wee Faerie Village project was designed to encourage visitors to explore, use their imagination, enhance their creativity and develop love and appreciation for the arts.  I think it definitely meets and exceeds those goals – we truly had an amazing time!  I loved seeing the kid’s faces light up as we marveled at each enchanting fairie dwelling.  The range of artistic expression in the faerie dwellings was astounding!  It was also great to see other kids exploring the grounds with parents and sometimes even grandparents making it a fun inter-generational event for everyone.  We’re looking forward to attending again next year!

Old Lyme Public Library, Old Lyme, CT

After visiting the Wee Fairie Village we headed over to the Old Lyme Public Library which was only a two-minute drive from the museum.  It was our first time visiting that library which was originally established as a free public library back in 1897.  The library was recently expanded in 1995, which more than doubled the square footage of the previous building, including a large Children’s Room and Community Room for public use.

Your turn: Have you the annual Wee Fairie Village yet?  Feel free to share in the comments.

family fun

Literary Road Trip Series: Riverview Farms Fall Festival at Robb’s Farm


Disclaimer:
Riverview Farms for provided my family with complimentary admission to the Fall Festival in exchange for writing an honest review. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

The Riverview Farm Fall Festival Season kicked off Saturday September 8, 2018 and runs through the first weekend in November.  The festival is held at Robb’s Farm in South Glastonbury and is open Fridays noon-6pm and Saturday & Sunday 10am-6pm.

Robb’s Farm is well-known for their ice cream and in the fall, they partner with Riverview Farms to bring a Fall Festival to the area.  The festival includes hayrides, a pumpkin bounce house, corn maze, pumpkins, baby animals, pony rides (on weekends) and goodies to eat.  Did somebody say apple fritters and ice cream?  Yum!  We were able to check out almost everything on our recent literary road trip.

Riverview Farms Fall events includes a petting zoo, hay rides, face painting, birthday parties, tours, baby chicks to hold, plus a 24′ Pumpkin Bounce.  There was a birthday party going on the day we visited and it looked like the kids attending were having a blast!  Riverview Farms also operates a petting zoo out of the Old Cider Mill in Glastonbury in the fall, which would be another family-friendly place to visit for animal lovers.

Here were the things we were able to check out during our visit back in September:

  • Hayride
  • Pumpkin Bounce
  • Apple Fritters – Highly Recommended. (They are melt in your mouth good!)
  • Plenty of photo opportunities

We also went in to check out the ice cream shop because the kids wanted water to drink since it was quite warm outside.  They have an assortment of refrigerated juices and bottled water inside the ice cream shop.  Although we didn’t taste their ice cream it sure looked good.  Plus, it’s all homemade and there is a nice variety of flavors to choose from.  We ate our apple fritters, drank water and had an impromptu story time on the picnic tables under the pavilion.

The kids said they enjoyed the hayride the most followed by the pumpkin bounce house.  I enjoyed the hayride too, but was happy I donned my comfy Koral workout pants instead of wearing shorts because there was lots of hay on the seats of the wagon.

The kids and I headed to the Glastonbury Public Library after our trip which was just a short car ride away.  I had the opportunity to read a little and check out some new books while the kids spent about an hour playing in the adorable play house at the library.  It was the prefect way to end our fun-filled mommy and me literary adventure.  We’ll definitely be back next fall to visit the Fall Festival again!

Glastonbury Public Library

After Thanksgiving, Robb’s Farm opens their Holiday Shop featuring trees, wreaths, hand-made bows, garland, kissing balls, seasonal pots and seasonal plants.

Your turn: Have you ever visited the Riverview Farms Fall Festival?  Feel free to share in the comments.

family fun

My Favorite Canvases: Canvas on the Cheap + Discount!

A couple of weeks ago on Instagram, I shared a canvas print we received from Canvas on the Cheap.  It turned out to be far more fantastic than I expected and now I seriously want to re-do every family photo in our home.  Canvas on the Cheap has many options to choose from 8″x8″ to 30″x40″, but I fell in love with 16″x20″ frame we received.  And guess what…..there is an exclusive link for Here Wee Read readers below!

There are so many things I love about these canvases.

QUALITY: The quality is amazing.  The thickness, the detail, the coloring, the packaging they were shipped in….they pay attention to every single detail!  All photos have a gorgeous semi-gloss finish.

EASY TO HANG: All I had to do was hang it on my wall, make sure it was level, put my nail and hook up and ta da…..it was perfect!  Seriously took me 5 minutes!  My husband couldn’t believe how fast I did it on my own!

FAST TURN AROUND:  I got everything in about 2-3 days.

I wish I could invite you all over to see it in person because the pictures really don’t do it any justice.  Buy one for yourself and your family to enjoy! Everyone needs one of these canvases in their home.

SAVE BIG ON CANVAS PRINTS FOR YOUR HOME!

Head to Canvas on the Cheap using my special link to order today!  The 8″x8″ canvases would make a great back to school gift for teachers, birthday presents or anytime of the year.

Your turn: Have you converted any of your family photos into canvas prints?  Feel free to share in the comments.

PIN PHOTO BELOW TO SAVE THIS COUPON CODE ON MY FAVORITE CANVAS PRINTS

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